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The Five of Swords in Tarot and How to Read It

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Five of Swords is about the dangers of overconfidence. If you have too much pride in yourself and your thoughts, you will put a strain on your friendships.

The Five of Swords is about the dangers of overconfidence. If you have too much pride in yourself and your thoughts, you will put a strain on your friendships.

The Five of Swords

This card depicts a torn-asunder sky, black clouds dissipating, and swords on the ground. A man, who is dangerously confident, holds three giant swords in his hands. He smiles devilishly as his red hair waves in the wind. Two opponents walk away from him into the wilderness.

Key takeaway: Sometimes when we seek triumph, we actually seek calamity. This card warns of the dangers of overconfidence.

Card Alignments

Upright

Conflict, disagreements, overconfidence, zeal, ego, arrogance, competition, aggression, defeat, winning at all costs, overcommitment, rejecting wisdom for free will.

Reversed

Reconciliation, resentment, calamity, unforgiving, grudge, unresolved, anger issues, attachment issues, disregard, seeds of revenge, extreme annoyance, extreme dislike.

A man with a huge ego smiles as he holds more swords than he can possibly wield. Two men walk away from him with their heads bowed; they're disappointed by the sword-wielding man.

A man with a huge ego smiles as he holds more swords than he can possibly wield. Two men walk away from him with their heads bowed; they're disappointed by the sword-wielding man.

Card Description

A man in the foreground holds three swords. He holds two giant swords in his left hand and one giant sword in his right. There are two swords on the ground. Two men walk away from the scene with their heads bowed and their posture drooping.

The two men left their swords behind rather than taking them with them. They're essentially leaving behind their baggage.

Color is important for this card. The colors relate to elements:

Red = Fire

Green = Earth

Yellow = Air

Blue = Water

The man wielding the swords wears a red outfit with a green tunic. He has fire and earth on his side but no air or water. This means he has the willpower to do whatever he wants, but he isn't using his brain to think things through.

The two men who walk away have on predominately yellow outfits. In a way, this suggests that wisdom is walking away from the man.

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There is a patchwork of gray clouds in the sky. There is an active storm front on the battlefield. There is tension among the men, and it is emotional.

The mountains in the distance foretell the challenges to come.

The Suit of Swords and the Second Estate

All cards in the Suit of Swords are associated with the Second Estate, which has to do with the hierarchy system of Medieval Europe to the early modern times. The hierarchy was split into three groups:

First Estate: Monarchy, kings and queens, and high clergy.

Second Estate: Nobles and knights.

Third Estate: Peasants and bourgeoise.

Keeping this in mind, the Five of Swords says something about the wealthy and initiated. The card suggests a debacle with people who are considered important. This means that their conflict will have an influence on other people. This card could indicate a political conflict that will have a far-reaching impact.

The card could be a warning for people in a position of power to not get ahead of themselves. Be reasonable and listen to wisdom. This is a reminder that holding all the power does not guarantee you know how to use it.

When we negate wisdom, bad things will surely follow. Just because you're good at talking or politicizing your way through things doesn't mean the end results will be good. You need to think more about the big picture and not just your triumphs, trophies, and conquests.

The card could also indicate a country that has focused too much on military power and has pushed experts and intellectuals to the side. This is a dangerous situation and also a humiliating one. People are suffering because too much of the nation's energy and resources are focused on power and might. This means other very important things are falling to the wayside.

Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Elementals

Salamanders

Gnomes

Sylphs

Undines

Represents

Free will

The Body (Physical Manifestation)

Thoughts

Emotions

Colors

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

Four Humors

Yellow Bile

Black Bile

Blood

Phlegm

Body Representations

Head, Heart, Thighs

Neck/Throat, Chest, Legs/Shins

Arms & Shoulders, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra (Spine Base), Feet

Western Astrology

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Chinese Zodiac

Dragon, Monkey, Rat

Snake, Rooster, Ox

Horse, Dog, Tiger

Sheep, Pig, Rabbit

Yin and Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Court Cards

Knights

Pages

Kings

Queens

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Swords

Hearts

The number 5 in tarot is associated with conflict, aggression, setbacks, and harassment. The Five of Swords is pretty similar to the Five of Wands. The difference is that in the Five of Swords, there is a clear victor.

The number 5 in tarot is associated with conflict, aggression, setbacks, and harassment. The Five of Swords is pretty similar to the Five of Wands. The difference is that in the Five of Swords, there is a clear victor.

Upright Card

The Five of Swords looks at the aftermath of a battle. Someone felt very strongly that they were right, and they were extremely proud of themselves. They were willing to stand up for what they believed to the point of losing friends or other close connections. The figure on the card is a man who is cocky and self-assured. This person is dangerous because they wield more power than they can harness.

Heated Confrontations

This card implies that the confrontation that took place was terrible. For those who left, it may have felt pointless to try to reason with the stubborn, cocky person. It's hard to knock sense into someone who is self-assured. They're going to do things their own way, and there is no stopping them.

The two wise men leave the scene for better opportunities and conversations, but they leave with a sense of grief. They're not happy with the turn of events, and they're disappointed with the sword-wielding man.

The person in the foreground thinks they're a victor. They saw the conversation or meeting as friendly banter or a competition. They wanted to win the argument or dispute and had no intention of coming to a realistic agreement.

Some might see the person in the foreground as a narcissist. They're only interested in their own ideas and require others to worship them.

Strained Friendships

Without compromise, relationships will suffer. The basis of all relationships and friendships is compromise. If you come into something with the idea that you're going to win and be the best of the best, you'll likely push away those who are closest to you. It's important to move past our lizard brains, which want us to strive for competition, status, and spotlight. Our pride betrays us. To properly mature, we have to focus more on collaboration and community.

Stop entering every conversation with a battle-ax. You don't need to get involved in every discussion you come across, and you don't need to prove your point and try to look like the best of the best. Stop getting involved in Facebook comment threads or the likes. Don't waste your time getting involved in pointless arguments. Your relationships will thrive if you minimize how many battles you go into. This card invites you to be more selective about when you argue. Friendship is based on friendliness, not turning every conversation into a sport.

Stop seeing others as threats to your success and happiness. The Five of Swords indicates that you see everything as a competition. You have a mentality of, "Only the strongest will survive." Your arrogance is betraying you, and it's better to wise up to that sooner than later, so you can make adjustments.

Learn How to Apologize

Don't try to justify your behavior. If you want to make things right with your friends or others, learn how to apologize. When we apologize, we show we don't think we're above people and that we want to be on good terms with others. Strong people apologize. Weak people lord themselves over others.

You Need Some Failures to Have Growth

The Five of Swords suggests that you are disillusioned by defeat. Perhaps you take your failures and setbacks too hard, but don't let these things define you. Learn from your mistakes and find a way to do better the next time.

Sometimes people do really bad in one class, but if they take that same class again with a different teacher, they do just fine. Sometimes you need to make a change in order to get things into a proper balance. Don't be afraid to try things again just because you fell short the first time or two. Give yourself grace. You need to learn how to be forgiving of your mistakes.

The Five of Swords indicates you need to focus on humility. Your overconfidence is getting in the way of your friendships.

The Five of Swords indicates you need to focus on humility. Your overconfidence is getting in the way of your friendships.

Five of Swords Reversed

In this position, this card suggests that you are trying too hard. Perhaps you're too focused on having a triumph to see how your victory creates calamity. Sometimes we push and push in an argument when it's obvious no real agreement will be reached. If the person on the other end refuses to listen, continuing to try to force them to see your point of view isn't going to work.

Emotional Turbulence

Just because you win an argument doesn't mean you're not going to feel awful afterward. You need to get a better idea of what it feels like after an argument is over. You need to remember what those feelings are like. Try using other tactics to troubleshoot issues you have with those around you. You want to be charismatic and wise, not a blowhard who people avoid.

The reversed Five of Swords indicates you realize that there will be no winners in the disagreement. You want the confrontation to stop, so you can move on and focus on constructive activities. There is some wisdom in this, to move on rather than circle back through the same tired points over and over again.

The reversed Five of Swords focuses more on the two people who walk away from the argument or confrontation. The upright Five of Swords focuses on the man in the foreground with the three swords. There is no point in engaging with a man who is wielding three swords. He is full of himself and will most likely harm himself because you can't realistically wield three swords.

Step Away From Bad Relationships

This card may suggest that you're having trouble walking away from an undesirable situation. Perhaps you just had a breakup, but your ex isn't letting you go. You keep trying to get out of the relationship, but the ex uses tactics to make you think you have to stay. You need to avoid this person until you get over them. Fresh emotions after a breakup can be deceitful. Your brain may be addicted to this person, and sometimes the best way to end an addiction is to go cold turkey.

Struggling With Paranoia

You could also be dealing with fears that history will repeat itself. Maybe you think you're doomed to failure because of one bad progress report, one bad grade, or one bad manager who didn't like you. You have to move past these things and heal. Forgive yourself and the situation. Put time and effort into your skills and develop yourself a little more. Prepare yourself so that you can succeed. Sometimes failure is just getting your feet wet. It's the prologue to you eventually getting things right.

Don't let a residual resentment overtake your thoughts and put a strain on your career or relationships. Address the conflict and figure out how to resolve it so that things are harmonious for you. Holding onto negative feelings or poor reviews of yourself will hold you back. You have to move beyond your failures. Continue putting yourself out there, so you can grow.

After a period of conflict, you should be ready to move forward. Don't hide from the world forever. You are here for a reason and can bring good into this world. You may have to compromise on certain things, but life often begins with compromise.

Ask for forgiveness and make amends where you know you need to make amends.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2022 Andrea Lawrence

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